Boris Johnson defends planned fire cuts at Mayor’s Question Time

chamber_380Boris Johnson has said planned cuts to the number of fire stations and engines will go-ahead provided he’s satisfied they don’t jeopardise public safety.

A public consultation on London Fire Brigade plans to close 12 stations and cut 18 fire engines and 520 jobs closed earlier this week.

As part of the consultation the capital’s fire authority has held a series of public meetings, allowing Londoners to question senior fire brigade officials about the closures.

Critics claim attendees have spoken “with one voice” against the cuts, although attendance has been low at many meetings.

Appearing at Mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday, the Mayor was asked by London Assembly members to confirm he would heed Londoners’ concerns and stop the cuts.

In response Mr Johnson said the number of fires and death by fires were falling and that as long as this trend continued the planned cuts would go ahead.

He also dismissed calls to abandon a planned cut in his share of the council tax, insisting it would not provide the long-term sustainable funding needed to ensure the fire brigade

Under the proposed cuts the response times for the first and second fire engines to arrive at a fire would increase in some areas and decrease in others.

Labour Assembly member Jeanette Arnold claimed Mr Johnson and his family would enjoy improved response times, while her constituents in the poorer parts of Islington would see increases.

She asked the Mayor: “Why are you a winner but the rest of my constituents losers?”

Her comments provoked an angry response from the Mayor who said it was “disgraceful” and “below the belt” to suggest he was biased.

The meeting was briefly suspended after fire fighters disrupted proceedings by chanting “no ifs, not buts, no fire service cuts.”